A Manchester derby and Liverpool playing host to Tottenham on paper looks like two exciting fixtures unfortunately what we were offered in midweek fell somewhat short of expectations.
Anfeld was close to resembling a morgue at times as Daniel Sturridge’s brave was enough to see Liverpool progress to the quarter finals at the expense of Mauricio Pochettino’s side. It may have been billed as Liverpool vs Tottenham but it wasn’t what we come to expect from in terms of personnel.
A staggering 21 changes were made between the two sides compared to their lineups on Saturday. That in itself speaks volumes as to where the EFL Cup ranks in terms of priorities for the title chasing clubs
The spectacle wasn’t all that better at Old Trafford the following night as Pep Guardiola made 9 changes to his City side and although Jose Mourinho named a largely unchanged side after Sunday’s defeat to Chelsea you do have to wonder had they not been so embarrassed at Stamford Bridge and pride needed to be restored so quickly then how many of those United stars would have featured.
In London it was more of the same as Arsenal made 9 changes and Chelsea made 7. The Blues going out to West Ham and perhaps whisper it quietly but I doubt messers Conte, Guardiola and Pochettino will have shed too many years at the fact that their sides participation in this competition has come to an end.
The message was quite clear in midweek from 6 of the top 7 (perhaps bar United who took it the most serious) that if they could progress then fine but it’s not to be to the detriment of league and European exploits.
Obviously you can understand why as just even getting into the top 4 come May dwarfs the EFL Cup in terms of stature and all the financial rewards that come with reaching the promised land of the Champions League.
As always it’s the fans you have to feel the most sorry for. In this instance it’s the Tottenham fans who are probably the most aggrieved after having to travel to Merseyside in midweek. Obviously you get behind the team regardless but to pay top money for a reserve run out must be galling.
But on the flipside and especially for Tottenham it looks like this is going to have to be a competition trust his sacrifices of they want to continue playing in the Top 4.
For so long Tottenham have had a proper crack at the competition because the bigger prizes have been out of reach but with this young squad it is no !infer the case. The eyes are on the top 4 or even the title not finishing 9th and a trip to Wembley.
The EFL Cup was going through somewhat of a renaissance as the big clubs were seemingly taking it seriously with Manchester City winning the competition twice in the past three years but it seems in one midweek the competitions image has taken a massive dent.
It’s always been the less prestigious younger brother to the F.A. Cup and at the end of the day the administrators have to be grateful that these big clubs still take part but when trying to sell the virtues of the competition then reserve team run ours on the T.V. really don’t help the spectacle.
Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are through to the next round so there is hope for a showpiece final but I think I’ll pick up my watching again then as if the big clubs aren’t trying then why should I?